NHS told to learn from US example

November 29, 2002

The government is not doing enough to recruit and retain clinical academics, a report from the Nuffield Trust says.

"The UK government is pursuing a policy of unprecedented growth in funding for the National Health Service, matched by ambitious targets for improved performance, yet there is a mismatch between plans for growth and modernisation of the clinical workforce and the recruitment and the retention of clinical academics," says Stephen Davies, author of the report and director of information and planning at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

"It is estimated that 20 per cent of clinical lecturer posts and 10 to 15 per cent of professorial posts are unfilled," the report says. "Yet the planned growth in medical education alone will require up to 1,000 additional clinical academic posts."

The report, Identity and Ideology: A Comparative Study of Academic Health Organisations in the UK and US , says the government has refused to learn from the US and Europe on how best to integrate teaching, research and patient care. It says: "Representation of academic health organisations is weak in comparison with the US, with separate bodies for universities and teaching hospitals."

But while the US approach creates "centres of excellence in which fulfilling clinical academic careers can be pursued", the report warns that this "may be at the expense of equity, economy and integration".

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